ABSTRACT

In its drive to educate young people as socialists, the state saw the critical Protestant Student Communities as a particular threat and frequently attacked them. State universities continued to teach theology in an attempt to produce socialist pastors, though parallel church courses were allowed to continue. Religious instruction was soon banned in schools, where the entire curriculum was taught in the light of ‘scientific socialism’ and information from western sources was outlawed. Objecting to the antagonistic attitudes instilled in children and the militarization of the curriculum, the largely pacifist church set up its own Peace Education programme, but the coercive influence of the state was very strong. It was for fear of sanctions that many families left the church after the bishops had forbidden Christians to attend the Youth Pledge ceremony and parents sent their children to the mass youth organizations for the same reason. However, the Protestant Youth Communities, with their open-minded and different approach, attracted large numbers of young people from outside the church as well as from within it. The ‘Open Youth Work’ carried on by some pastors was an especially powerful draw for disaffected youths.